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Free cars for the poor in California

Kevin Chupka
Executive Producer/Writer

A new experiment in California aims to solve two problems with one program. A pilot program backed by the California Air Resource Board is offering some big kick backs for residents of the Greater Los Angeles area and San Joaquin Valley if they turn in old gas guzzling vehicles for more energy efficient ones. The lower their income the more money could be coming their way.

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In fact, in the right situations, residents could get an electric or hybrid car for nothing. Literally $0.

According to the press release from the Air Resource Board:

The program works by providing increasingly larger cash payments for the lowest-income families to move up to the very cleanest cars. Under this program, for example, it is possible for a family that meets the income guidelines to receive $12,000 toward the purchase of an electric car.

You can read about the way the incentives are calculated here in the full release.

General Motors' Chevy Volt

The program comes as the state’s governor Jerry Brown has set a goal of 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025 and a cut in overall carbon-based fuels in California of 50% by 2030.

As for the new incentive program, the best way to get one of the cars without opening your wallet is to look at used vehicles. As Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Task notes, “There are so many (Chevy) Volts (GM) and (Nissan) Leafs (NSANY) that have come off lease in the last year or so from when they first came on the market that the prices of those cars have really fallen dramatically.”

As Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli points out, California has long been a leader when it comes to subsidizing and incentivizing the purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles. That means it can be difficult to really quantify the size of the market for these vehicles. “We don’t really have a genuine economy in the market for fuel efficient cars,” Santoli says noting that when you subsidize something you get more of it

What do you think, could the program curb emissions and help the poor at the same time?

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